Treasury denies involvement in finance minister debacle


National Treasury has denied claims by The Sunday Times that African National Congress (ANC) Deputy Secretary General, Jessie Duarte, offered Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas the position of finance minister days before President Jacob Zuma’s controversial dismissal of Nhlanhla Nene.

Over the weekend, the paper alleged that Duarte had telephoned Jonas with the offer, less than a week after he allegedly turned it down following a meeting with the controversial government connected Gupta family at a Sandton hotel.

The paper also alleged that Zuma’s son, Duduzane, who serves as shareholder in a number of the family’s business ventures, had been present when Jonas rejected the offer from Ajay and Atul Gupta, a mere two weeks before Nene was axed in favour of little known ANC backbencher David van Rooyen.

“It is concerning that the Sunday Times regularly relies on unnamed sources and faceless people to spread rumours and give credence to their stories,” Treasury said in a statement.

“We challenge the Sunday Times to back up their claim and provide proof of such a source. Should such proof be provided, appropriate action against such officials will be taken”.

On Monday, ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said the paper had been “overzealousness” in its portrayal of Duarte, and that the party would approach the Press Ombudsman due to the paper contravening the national press code of reporting on a matter in a truthful and accurate manner.

“No care is taken to corroborate the story and scant regard is given to the fact that all those being implicated by the Sunday Times in the story have roundly rejected the allegations. The Sunday Times stays true to the adage that one cannot let the truth stand in the way of a good story; as false as it may be,” Kodwa said.

He added that Duarte would be seeking legal advice on the matter, and that she had agreed to submit her cellphone record to prove she never spoke to Jonas at the time.

A spokesperson for the Gupta owned Oakbay Investments firm, Nazeem Howa, has also rejected the paper’s claim, saying the family never met with Jonas to discuss the position.

“We challenge the faceless purveyors of these lies to provide evidence of any of these allegations,” he said.

In a follow-up statement, Democratic Alliance (DA) Shadow Minister of Finance David Maynier said Jonas’ ongoing refusal to comment on the allegations gives the impression that it might be true, and that the party expects an answer when Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan address the media on Monday to provide feedback on his international investor roadshow held last week. 


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